EDITORIAL: Celebrate the final ArtWalk of its 15th season

Oct. 6—It's the final First Thursday ArtWalk of the season in Joplin, and it's shaping up to be a pretty important one.

This ArtWalk, which takes place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. across a number of downtown venues, marks the end of the event's 15th season. Its organizers and artists will be recognized at City Hall with a proclamation from Mayor Doug Lawson.

The first ArtWalk took place in March 2008 on a "hope and a prayer," organizer Linda Teeter told the Globe earlier this year. She threw the event together in roughly a week's time, showing off a dozen artists' work downtown at a single pop-up location. By October of that year, they had five locations up and running, showcasing 50 local and area artists.

That momentum has only increased as the years have gone by.

The first several years of the ArtWalk, the event took place on the third Thursday of the month. That, of course, morphed into what is now known as Third Thursday, and the ArtWalk was moved to the first Thursday of the month to keep its focus strictly on the artists.

Today, the ArtWalk regularly takes place at several locations, with artists of all kinds — painters, sculptors, jewelry-makers and many more — and musicians showcasing their talents. Visitors can meet the artists and musicians and even buy some of their work.

Cities need all kinds of features to function properly: infrastructure, schools, public safety, government, jobs and housing, to name just a few. But all of that makes up the skeleton of a city; it forms the physical makeup. A city's soul comes straight from its arts community, which provides color, personality, style and emotion.

Joplin clearly has a thriving arts community, and the ArtWalk has become the perfect vehicle to show it off.

Major props to Teeter for championing her vision of a monthly arts-focused event for the Joplin community, and for her dedication in keeping it going for the past 15 years.